In mid 2008, Dan Haren Sr., along with his son Danny Haren (Arizona Diamondbacks), approached the Diamondbacks with the concept of creating a baseball stadium specifically designed for children with special needs. The Diamondbacks Foundation had previously supported 29 baseball fields throughout Arizona, but never a stand-alone special needs baseball facility. Dan, along with MLAZ Board President Frank Udvare, set out to create a “miracle” for children with special needs.
The Scottsdale Unified School District was simultaneously approached regarding possible land/site locations that might be available. The SUSD was agreeable to such a concept and donated the land (leased for 20 years) at the recently closed Cheyenne Elementary School located at Frank Lloyd Wright and Via Linda in Northeast Scottsdale.
The newly named Miracle League of Arizona (MLAZ) developed its Board of Directors and soon received a $380,000 grant from the Arizona Diamondbacks. A major capital campaign was established which ultimately raised $1.83 million and led to the grand opening of the “Dan Haren Jr. Miracle League of Arizona Baseball Stadium” on March 11, 2011.
The Miracle League of Arizona is unique in that it is more than just a field. The entire facility was built and created with the needs of special needs individuals and their families in mind. It has a specially designed rubberized turf with painted on bases so that there is easy maneuverability for those in wheelchairs, walkers, or even someone with an uneven gait. Beyond that, it also features accessible bathrooms, caregiver rooms with showers, spacious and flat dug-out areas, a scoreboard and sound system, and a concession area so that individuals can stay and enjoy for the full duration of their day with all needs previously thought of.
In February 2013, through a grant from the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority, MLAZ opened a $280,000 adaptive playground designed for children with special needs. As an addition, a picnic area and a few barbeques were added to accommodate families wishing to stay and enjoy the day before or after their games.
In October of 2013, thanks to a $60,000 grant from Thunderbirds Charities, we opened batting cages for our athletes as well. We are the first and only Miracle League to have batting cages for our players. Athletes are welcomed to come before their games to get in some practice swings.